Skies have gone to the dogs (and pigs) | May 3
Where the wild things are flying
It’s out of hand! The idea that people can take their pets anywhere and everywhere because they offer support is ludicrous. The situation on aircraft is the worst: People who travel with fake "emotional support" animals are a growing problem for flight attendants, frequent fliers and people with disabilities who have service animals for medical reasons.
Airlines are dealing with a growing number of injuries, confrontations and other problems resulting from these support animals. It’s not only dogs and cats, but monkeys, parrots, iguanas, peacocks, kangaroos, snakes, turkeys, tortoises, rabbits, goats, hedgehogs and sheep. I’ve personally witnessed dogs biting, defecating and yapping. Signs have popped up in airports stating that all pets, except service animals, must be in carriers.
It’s become a flying zoo! We can thank the feds for allowing emotional support animals who do not need any specialized training and are there to purely give comfort and love. This is a case of government-guaranteed entitlements.
What happened to common courtesy and common sense? When folks stepped forward with their peanut allergies, airlines stopped serving them on flights. What about those who are allergic to pet fur?
For those who need emotional support I suggest learning meditation, taking medication or staying home.
Lil Cromer, Belleair
Question authority | April 27, letter
Government is good
A letter writer has declared that "government doesn’t do anything well." This statement is demonstrably false. Sixty-one million Social Security checks reach their beneficiaries every month. Only one passenger has died in a scheduled airliner accident over the past nine years.
Our schools graduate almost 3 million young people every year who are ready to become productive, law-abiding, tax-paying citizens.
Our traffic signals work, our professionals are appropriately tested and licensed, our fires are fought, our weather is predicted, and our parks are beautiful.
Our government has survived and won wars, put men on the moon and brought them back safely, and steadily fixed many of its flaws, including slavery and segregation.
Meanwhile, corporations and businesses beyond counting disappear every year through bankruptcy. No one does everything perfectly, but the government is the people working together to achieve important goals we can’t achieve privately, and I’d say our batting average is astonishingly good.
Jim Perry, Tampa
The times we inhabit | April 29, column
A load of wheelbarrow
After reading Peggy Noonan’s column, this is my take on William Carlos Williams’ poem about the red wheelbarrow: The wheelbarrow’s owner is either dead; not dead but simply too sick to bring it in out of the rain; not dead or sick, only ignorant of what happens to things that can rust or rot when left exposed to the elements; not dead, not sick, not ignorant but rich and lazy.
Now here’s my take on the times we inhabit: If I were reading a book about the history of the United States prior to the Civil War, for as long as I was reading it, my mind would be inhabiting a time when U.S. leaders talked liberty while walking slavery.
Nowadays, whenever I watch the evening news or read a newspaper, I’m reminded that I inhabit a time when U.S. leaders are talking constitutionalism while walking imperialism.
When I read columns by the likes of Peggy Noonan and Adam Goodman, I see writers trying their level best to convince their readers that such behavior by our leaders is just fine and dandy and that there shall be no consequences.
Oh well — they have their opinions.
And I have mine.
Jim Nichols, St. Petersburg
Cost factors into security | May 2
Don’t criminalize students
Florida’s recent school safety legislation requires that schools have at least one campus police officer or armed school employee by the 2018-2019 school year. Before rushing to comply with the legislation’s mandate, local school officials should examine the history of police in schools to understand how a mass hiring of school resource officers will put Florida’s black and brown students at an increased risk of being unjustly criminalized.
This reality hits home for me and many others in Pinellas County. Last year, I found myself in the SRO’s office for coming to the defense of the LGBTQIA+ community after a group of students posted a class project with a flagrantly bigoted message on social media. Even though I was merely attempting to shed light on a recurring problem at my school, I felt as if I was being interrogated by an officer who was looking for someone to hold responsible, who made false assumptions about my involvement in the situation, and who had me reveal personal information that I was not comfortable sharing at the time.
In the aftermath of prominent school shootings such as Columbine, Sandy Hook and now Marjory Stoneman Douglas, local and federal governments have resorted to increased funding for school police and other security measures like metal detectors and surveillance equipment as their solution to gun violence in schools. As history continues to repeat itself, one vital question has been left out of the conversation: How has increased police presence in schools really affected school safety? I have found little information proving that police presence in schools has prevented violence, but I’ve seen data confirming a link between police in schools and the criminalization of students.
Devin Myers, Treasure Island
Drivers, stay camera-ready | May 4
Don’t run red lights
If this story bothered you, you are likely an offender. Running a red light can be a killing event for you or someone else. Life is too short to drive recklessly. How long is a red light? It’s not worth dying over. Slow down and pay attention, please.
Judy Lavaron, St. Petersburg